Transcending America’s Pacific coastline aboard Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.
Sat in the front seat of a Saltspring Air float plane, I enjoyed breathtaking views of Vancouver as I descended into its harbour, landing just in front of Canada Place. For such a densely populated city, I felt I’d arrived somewhere small and friendly, certifying its status as one of the world’s most liveable cities.
After checking into the St. Regis Hotel (worthy of mention, and highly recommended) I briefly explored the waterfront before meeting up with Stephanie, Dave and other web geeks at the Alibi Room in Gastown. In the company of several beer experts, I sought recommendations on which four I should sample on my ‘Frat-Bat’. I ended up drinking quite a mix: King Heffy, Fat Tug, Tree Vertical and Long Boat. I forget which was my favourite.
I was unsure how to spend my single day in Vancouver. Dave recommended visiting Stanley Park if the weather was good; luckily the predicted rainfall was absent so I headed in that direction. I was easily drawn into this expansive park; beautiful in and of itself yet also a great spot to find magnificent views of the cityscape. Always on the look out for a good walking trail, I spotted the 8.8km Seawall and followed the circumference of the park.
From this trail I saw the Harry Jerome statue, the 9 O’Clock Gun, the Lionsgate Bridge stretching across the harbour, and in the distance much of Vancouver’s industry, including mounds of Sulphur located irresponsibly close to such a populated city. Halfway round, I stopped to admire the limitless views across the Salish Sea, where sailboats and oil tankers floated upon a still mirror-like surface.
As I reached the end of the trail, the heavens opened. With a distance between me and my hotel, I was soon soaked to the bone. Reverting to type, I ended up in the local mall and regrettably ate something vaguely resembling sweet and sour chicken in the food court. Never again.
That was it. Just one day in Vancouver, but I’d seen enough to warrant a return visit. At 5am, I took a taxi to the railway station, where I caught a coach to Seattle to catch the Coast Starlight to San Francisco. This involved crossing the border; cue an arrogant, unfriendly border guard, with a line of questioning that assumed guilt. I was back in the United States.
After eight days exploring North America, it was time to visit its more westerly extremities, starting with Saltspring Island.
Some cities are best arrived at by air, while some are best approached by car. Others are best suited to arrival by train. Toronto is one such city.